[OPE-L:1514] The Death of David Gordon

glevy@acnet.pratt.edu (glevy@acnet.pratt.edu)
Mon, 18 Mar 1996 09:49:04 -0800

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As many listmembers are not on PEN-L, I am forwarding the following sad
news to you. -- Jerry

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Mon, 18 Mar 1996 09:13:36 -0800
From: Robert Pollin <Pollin@mail.ucr.edu>
To: Multiple recipients of list <pen-l@anthrax.ecst.csuchico.edu>
Subject: [PEN-L:3390] The Death of David Gordon

David Gordon, one of the major contributors to radical political economy for
the past 20 years, and a great teacher and mainstay in the political economy
graduate program at the New School, died on Saturday. David was my
dissertation supervisor, as he was for many others of us working in
political economy. I could never repay my debt of gratitude to him, and I
know many others feel the same. We will greatly miss him.

I know the New School is planning some kind of memorial service for him, and
I will post plans as I hear about them. Meanwhile, I would love to hear
especially from other former students, to think about ways that we can
create a meaningful send-off for David, at the memorial service and beyond.

I am posting a draft of of obituary that Tom Weisskopf and Sam Bowles have

--Bob Pollin

David M. Gordon (1944-1996)

David Gordon, a leading economist of the left, died
Saturday at the age of fifty-two; he succumbed to congestive
heart failure while awaiting a heart transplant at Columbia
Presbyterian Hospital in New York. At the time of his death
he was Director of the Center for Economic Policy Analysis
and Professor of Economics at the New School for Social

Gordon came from a family of economists. His father,
the late Robert Aaron Gordon, was President of the American
Economic Association while his mother, the late Margaret S.
Gordon, was well known for her contributions to the
economics of employment and social welfare policy. His
brother Robert J Gordon is a prominent macroeconomist and
Professor of Economics at Northwestern University. David
Gordon and his family have been referred to as the "Flying
Wallendas of Economics."

David Gordon is best known for his contributions to the
theory of discrimination and labor market segmentation, his
analysis of the institutions shaping long-term economic
growth, and his trenchant criticisms of conservative
economic policy. His contributions to labor economics,
developed jointly with Richard Edwards and Michael Reich,
challenged the conventional assumption of a single labor
market and argued instead for the recognition of deep
divisions along racial, gender, and class lines. His
macroeconomic research involved theoretical, historical and
econometric analysis of the impact of political and social
as well as economic institutions on long-term investment and
growth. He coined the term "social structure of
accumulation" and is credited with founding the school of
economic thought bearing that name.

Gordon's Fat and Mean: The Myth of Managerial
"Downsizing" and the Corporate Squeeze of Working Americans,
to be published next month by Martin Kessler Books at The
Free Press, has won lavish pre-publication praise. A review
to appear in The Atlantic suggests that it will be one of
the most influential public-policy books of the decade. The
book documents the long term decline in the pay and living
standards of American workers and what Gordon has termed the
increasingly top-heavy bureaucratic structure of American

As a student, Gordon wrote for the Harvard Crimson, and
following his graduation from Harvard in 1965 he helped
found The Southern Courier, a civil rights newspaper based
in Atlanta. Throughout his life he maintained his interest
in journalism, contributing an economics column to the Los
Angeles Times and numerous articles to The Nation, as well
as making frequent appearances on television and radio
commentary programs.

Gordon received his doctoral degree in Economics from
Harvard University in 1971, taught briefly at Yale, and
since 1973 has been a professor of economics at the New
School for Social Research. Pointedly eschewing the career
paths of the economics mainstream, he was a founder and
active member of the Union for Radical Political Economics,
a professional organization of leftist economists, as well
as the Center for Democratic Alternatives, and most
recently, the Center for Economic Policy Analysis. Gordon
was particularly beloved by his many doctoral students at
the New School where he was known for his tireless attention
to their research.

His major publications include Theories of Poverty and
Underemployment (1972), Segmented Work, Divided Workers
(with Richard Edwards and Michael Reich, 1982) and After the
Waste Land: A Democratic Economics for the year 2000 (with
Samuel Bowles and Thomas Weisskopf, 1991). He regarded Fat
and Mean as his legacy, working intensely on it over the
past year as his heart weakened, and delivering it to his
publisher on the day of a medical setback that led to his
final hospitalization.

Asked four years ago to reflect on his professional
life to that point, Gordon responded: "I feel pleased with
the choices I have made and the work that my collaborators
and I have produced; frustrated by the condescending
complacency of mainstream economists; angered by the greed
and irrationality which dominate the U.S. political economy;
and still hopeful for the prospects of a significant
progressive mobilization towards a more just and humane
society as we turn towards the 21st century."

A memorial service will be held at the New School for
Social Research on *** at ***. There will be no funeral;
contributions are welcome to the David M. Gordon Memorial
Fund for graduate fellowships at the Center for Economic
Policy Analysis.

He is survived by his wife of 29 years, Diana Gordon,
Professor and Chair of Political Science at the City
University of New York, his brother Robert, and his extended
family members Timothy and Liam Stokes.

Robert Pollin
Department of Economics
U. of California-Riverside
Riverside, CA 92521-0427, USA
(909) 787-5037 ext. 1579 (office); (909) 788-8106 (home)
(909) 787-5685 (fax); Pollin@mail.ucr.edu (e-mail)